Parents have heard the hype regarding co-sleeping for years, but what exactly are the dangers of sharing a bed with your child? It happens more than you think. Your cranky little miracle finally falls asleep in his crib, but then you hear that awful screech that no parent wants to hear at 3 a.m. You run to your child's cribside but don't have the energy to nurse. So what do you do? Bring your baby to your own bed, snuggled between mom and dad. According to the March of Dimes, co-sleeping may put your baby at a higher risk for sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS. Strangulation, suffocation, injury and poor sleep are also common concerns. Due to these factors, the American Academy of Pediatrics warns parents against co-sleeping and instead recommends that children always sleep in their own beds to greatly reduce these risks.
Strangulation or Injury
Children who co-sleep are at risk for strangulation and injury. Infants and toddlers can become trapped between the bed and wall or other furniture surrounding the bed. Children can also be entrapped by the headboard, footboard or bed frame. Without the bars of a crib or side rails of a toddler bed, children may also fall from the bed, resulting in potential injury. Children under the age of 2 who co-sleep are at an increased risk of death by strangulation and other unexpected causes, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Although nursing your baby as you both gently fall asleep may seem like the ideal situation, the risk far outweighs the convenience.
If you're one of those parents that checks on your sleeping baby every 20 minutes, you understand the risks of suffocation. Co-sleeping can result in young children being smothered by quilts, blankets or pillows. Children who lay face down while sleeping are also at a greater risk. Parents accidentally rolling over on infants and toddlers can also lead to death. More than 515 infants and toddlers under the age of 2 died from sleeping in an adult bed from January 1990 to December 1997, according to the CPSC. Out of these deaths, 121 deaths were caused by the parent, sibling or caregiver rolling against or on top of the baby while asleep. Opt to put your child into his own crib and get some shut-eye.
Increased Risk of SIDS
SIDS is certainly every parent's worst nightmare. According to the March of Dimes, approximately half of all SIDS cases occur when the baby co-sleeps in a bed, sofa or chair. The American SIDS Institute points out that SIDS cannot be completely prevented, as the cause is still not exactly known. The institute does suggest not placing a baby to sleep in an adult bed or falling asleep with a baby in a chair or on a couch, as these factors can increase the child’s risk of SIDS. Parents naturally worry about their children, but there is no need to live in fear. Prevention methods, like having your baby sleep in his crib, can dramatically decrease an infant's risk of SIDS, giving mom and dad more peace of mind.
If you think you're not getting enough sleep, your irritable baby may be experiencing the same fatigue. Author and director of The Center for Pediatric Sleep Disorders, Dr. Richard Ferber, advises parents against co-sleeping due to the sleep problems it can cause. Contrary to pediatrician William Sears, who advocates co-sleeping due to the nurturing effects it can provide to baby and parents, Dr. Ferber concludes that children forced to sleep alone in their own bed are better able to develop individuality and can grow up to become secure adults. There is plenty of time for mom and dad to socialize with baby during waking hours. Give baby the opportunity to sleep safe and sound in the comfort of her crib at night.
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